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Chapter 1

PSY 260 Chapter 1 Textbook Notes

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Mandy Wintink

Louisa Man [PSY260] Ch1: Psychology of Learning and Memory 1 C ASE S TUDY - Clive Wearing; herpes simplex virus stripped away caused interesting memory condition - Could only remember things that happened within a couple of seconds from the present o Would greet wife as if he hadn’t seen her for years :’) every time he caught sight of her - Note: despite the damage, his emotional memory remained (love for wife), procedural memory (could still conduct a symphony); & could still learn how to get from one place to another with practice - This case allows us to see that memory is not a single, cohesive process (CW retained other components of memory despite losing another) 2 F ROM PHILOSOPHY TO PSYCHOLOGY Psychology has roots in philosophy: where knowledge was originally derived from reasoned thought & argument rather than empirical observations; still, these ideas are important to us today 2.1 A RISTOTLE : ASSOCIATIONISM *EMPIRICIST* - Derived theories from data *interesting for someone in his time to do so* - Associationism: Memory depends on linkages between two things; ie remembering/ experiencing item 1 elicits remembering / experiencing item 2 There are 3 aspects to associationism o CONTINGUITY: nearness in time (temporal continguity) and space (sptial continguity)  eg: we see CHAIRS + TABLES usually in the same time, + space o FREQUENCY: the more often we see these things together, the more strongly we associate them  eg: the more we see CHAIRS + TABLES together, the stronger the link o SIMILARITY: similarity in sensation of one will trigger the memory of another  Eg: CHAIRS + TABLES could both be made out of wood - Empiricism: all ideas are result of experience Louisa Man - Nativism: all ideas are inborn o Plato expanded on this in his “ideal world”, where each individual took up positions in society based on their innate ability - (wars happened and nothing substantial in European happened for a long while) 2.2 D ESCARTES : DUALISM *NATIVIST* - Argued that the mind + body were separate - Body: functions like a self regulating machine, where: o Stimulus  response  Stimulus enters the system to elicit a response: THE REFLEX ARC  *note that he believed this happened by an internal hydraulic system in the body though, so although his idea was correct, the mechanism was… off*  First to suggest that the body’s processes could be understood by the same manner that physical machinery may work - Believed that most of what we know is innate 2.3 J OHN L OCKE : TABULA RASA *EMPIRICISM* - Inspired by Newton and wanted to break the mind down into simple elements o :: complex ideas are formed by simple elements that we acquire through the senses  EG: SENSES  red + sweet COMPLEX IDEA  cherry - “TABULA RASA” o Blank slate o Suggested that babies arrive in the world without any knowledge, that all humans are equal - LEIBNIZ: argued that ¾ of knowledge is acquired; ¼ is innate. 2.4 W ILLIAM JAMES : ASSOCIATIONISM *EMPIRICISM* - First psychology course taught; first psychology textbook - Interested in how we learn new habits, acquire new memories o Story: Veteran holding a bag of groceries, jokester screams “ATTENTION!” and the veteran drops everything to salute. Louisa Man  Why was the veteran’s response to deeply ingrained that even years after retiring, he still had that reflex? - Believed that most abilities and habits are formed early in our lifetimes - Formed central tenet of psychology as learning how skills and memories were formed and maintained, eg. Why old learning may block or help new memory formation - Strong believer of associationism: o Activation of event 1: dinner party might involve multiple connections, where some of these elements may overlap with event 2: going dancing  EXAMPLE: THE EVENING DINNER PARTY GOING DANCING  Sight of lady  Sigh  Smell of perfume  Smell of perfume  Taste of food  Movements of dancing  Feel of stiff dinner jackt Sound of music - hoped that one day these connections could be mapped directly to the brain *ahead of his time* 3 E VOLUTION AND N ATURAL S ELECTION “How unique are humans within the animal kingdom?”. Consider the distinction between man and animal with the idea of evolution and natural selection. 3.1 C HARLES D ARWIN : THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION - Erasmus Darwin (Charles’ grandfather) was a vocal proponent of the theory of EVOLUTION (stemming from how continents drifted apart—that things on earth were gradually changing over time) - On a voyage to the Galapagos islands, he observed that finches of different islands were very similar except for small details, like beak size/ shape , and these details seemed to be suited for the environment within that island - Proposed the theory of natural selection: species evolve when they possess a trait that meets three conditions o Inheritable trait: passed from parent to offspring o Natural variability: have range of forms between individuals o Relevance to survival (“FITNESS”): Variable traits makes one individual more likely to survive than another Louisa Man - Darwin also argued that BEHAVIOURAL traits could have evolved this way as well: “evolutionary psychology” o Learning (method of adapting to changes in environment) has value for individual, therefore increasing fitness 3.2 F RANCIS G ALTON : NATURAL VARIABILITY —CORRELATIONAL STUDIES - Strong nativist (kind of a cocky guy, believed he was better than everyone else—easy to remember bc he believed that he was ahead of the curve in the normal distribution) - Measured natural variability in populations (incl height, auditory acuity, physical size, etc.etc) o Produced “normal distribution” - Established basic statistical methods (via studies on whether prayers were helpful) o Hypothesis o Correlational studies o Experimental group o Control group - Galton’s study on whether prayers helped the longevity of famous people had confound problem (was it really the prayer variable at play, or was it something else, ie being famous = more stress = easier to die?) - Eugenics: Galton later applied his studies in natural variability for “the betterment of mankind”, promoting mating of “better” people 4 T HE B IRTH OF E XPERIMENTAL P SYCHOLOGY 4.1 H ERMAN EBBINGAUS : HUMAN MEMORY EXPERIMENTS - Inspired by perception studies showing high predictability of human perception of stimuli, Ebbinghaus set up memory studies in the format of a rigorous natural science study - Tried to explain how memories are created and fade via mathematical equations o Controlled for confound of previous knowledge by memorizing a list of nonsense words (rather than real word lists, where some words might be more familiar than others) o Read 20 words until all the words were memorized, and then, after a delay, recorded how many of the original words he could still remember. Louisa Man o Retention Curve: Looks like - Interesting things to note about this curve: o Strong time savings when delay is short o However, savings declines on longer delays o Also demonstrated that shorter lists are easier to remember than longer lists o Increasing initial practice improved later recall - Ebbinghaus designed and conducted experiments o Incl: independent variable, dependent variable, - Problems with Ebbinghaus’ self design o (External validity): what if Ebbinghaus did not represent “the average individual”? o Subject bias: Ebbinghaus himself knew which variables were being manipulated, could influence how he acted
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